Making Connections

Networking is an important social muscle we develop and strengthen with courage…and practice.

Those willing to reach out and build new connections have historically had a smoother transition away from being a full-time student to working or earning an advanced degree in a chosen field or industry after graduation.

Why start now?  Your years at Emory provide a safe training ground to move through these five basic steps for making connections!

  • Preparation
  • Introductions
  • Listening
  • Connecting
  • Following Up
  • Before approaching someone, it is generally a good idea to have a basic grasp of what you want to get out of the conversation. Many times, people will have unrealistic or skewed expectations for networking and this hinders their ability to do so.
  • First impressions are extremely important. Make sure to be confident, stand upright, smile, and give a firm handshake while introducing yourself. Also, make sure to include a tidbit of information in your introduction that can be used to identify later on. For example, “Hi, I’m Jack, I go to __________ College.”
  • Many people think, “Okay, now that I have their attention, I need to tell as much about my story as I can.” That’s a mistake. Unless the individual specifically asks, the best move is to listen. A good way to start a conversation is to ask the person about their job or even ask them how they managed to get to this point in their career. Listening to what the person has to say is important for 2 main reasons:1) If he or she is accomplished, then he or she probably has good advice that would benefit you to hear .2) Listening provides you with ways to effectively connect with that same person later on in the conversation.
  • A great way of connecting is by highlighting what you have in common. Maybe this person grew up in a similar region to you. Perhaps they share your passion for traveling or reading or even eating. Whatever the common connection is, find it and talk about it. This will help you later stand out in the person’s mind.
  • If you did a decent job you should now have a connection with the person, and a way to contact them (as well as permission to). It is best to follow up as soon as possible. Make sure to use all the components you gained from the conversation. For example, “I really enjoyed talking with you and hearing about how the rivalries between our two universities used to be as fierce 10 years ago as they are today.”After quickly following up, you are now set to develop this connection with the individual in the future. If they do not get back to you immediately, reach back out to them after what you feel is a reasonable amount of time.

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